The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Information for Patients

These pages aim to give you more information on your journey as a patient with the Yorkshire Regional Soft Tissue Sarcoma Service 

What is a Sarcoma?

Sarcomas are a rare form of cancers that arise from the connective tissue of the body. This includes bone, muscle, nerve, fat and cartilage.

Sarcoma accounts for 1% of all malignancies in the UK with approximately 3,800 new cases every year. Because they are so rare, it is important that anyone suspected of a sarcoma is seen by a team of doctors who specialise in this condition. You may be travelling quite far, therefore, to visit the specialist team in Leeds.


What causes Sarcoma?

The majority of sarcoma arise sporadically with no obvious cause or reason. Nevertheless, there are a few recognised genetic and environmental associations. One example of a genetic condition associated with sarcoma is neurofibromatosis

Risk factors for developing sarcoma include previous radiotherapy (usually for another type of cancer) and chronic leukaemia.

The Patient Journey

Most sarcomas are found by patients who notice a lump has developed somehwere on their body. Others are found incidentally during unrelated investigations. If you have found a lump, you should visit your GP for investigation. Your GP will arrange a scan of the lump to gain more information on what it is. If necessary, they will then refer you to our team. 

Once you have been referred to the Yorkshire Regional Soft Tissue Sarcoma Service (YRSTSS), we will discuss your case at our weekly multi-disciplinary team meeting (MDT). We will review the history from your GP or referring hospital and discuss any radiological imaging or tissue biopsy samples that may have already been taken. We will then contact your GP or referring specialist with our recommendations or we will arrange to see you in one of our clinics based at the Bexley wing.

Many lumps that are discussed by our team are found to be benign (non-cancerous) and can simply be monitored. No surgery is required unless they are causing problematic symptoms. Some lumps however, are found to be sarcomas and will require treatments that can include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. You will be informed of the best treatment for you at your clinic appointment. You will meet a consultant and a nurse specialist, who will support you throughout your treatment. 

Please read through the other informative pages to learn more about biopsies, surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and follow-up.